Poverty Bay or Turanganui a Kiwa? Council asks community

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Gisborne District Council is asking the public if there is support for Turanganui a Kiwa to be used as an alternate to Poverty Bay.

A formal name change would be officially recognised by Government, local authorities and on maps. However, not everyone is in favour.

Tūranga Nui ā Kiwa, or Poverty Bay? The Gisborne Council is seeking feedback from the community about a proposed dual name 'Turanganui a Kiwa / Poverty Bay'.

Councillor Malcolm MacLean says, “I've spoken to a person that's very deep in the history in the Gisborne area and he's informed me that Poverty Bay was named first.”

But Gisborne District Council's director of transformation and relationships, Keita Kohere says Turanganui a Kiwa is already known in the district as the Māori name for the Gisborne area.

“Both names would recognise the special historical and cultural significance of both original Māori and non-Māori names.”

The name Poverty Bay was given by Captain James Cook, who after making his first New Zealand landfall there in October 1769, said there was "no one thing" he or his crew wanted from the area. Turanganui a Kiwa meanwhile means the great standing place of Kiwa.

Principal at Kati School in Gisborne, Billie-Jean Potaka Ayton says, “We're not poor, we've got our reo, we have our land we have our land, we have our whanau, we have our community, for us as Maori that's what makes us feel rich, and Poverty Bay doesn't reflect that for us as a community.”

In 2013 students at Kaiti School submitted a petition with 2,500 signatures asking for the name change to recognise the original name.

Potaka Ayton elaborates, “They (the students) thought that original name better reflected who they were as Māori and so they thought what can we do about it.”

MacLean says, “There are more people in Poverty Bay than there just in one a school, and I think we've got to take everybody's thoughts into perspective and the people I speak to and the people that contact me say stay steadfast and stick with the name Poverty Bay.”

So if it goes through, which name should come first?

MacLean says, “Look I've got a flexible mind but at this stage if it's a double barrel, Poverty Bay - Turanganui a Kiwa.”

Potaka Ayton says, “Turanganui a Kiwa needs to be the first name, it is the original name, Poverty Bay can be second.”

The public can submit a survey online or at council offices before February 9. The decision will then be made by the New Zealand Geographic Board.